Home » From The Readers, Letters to the Editor » City of Sedona Is Advised to Clean Its House

City of Sedona Is Advised to Clean Its House

Sedona AZ (September 12, 2012) – Sedona resident Terrie Frankel, in a SedonaEye.com Open Forum, speaks directly to the Sedona Arizona Mayor and City Council and to the public:

Mr. Mayor, Members of Council, as a 16 year resident of Sedona, I feel compelled to address some of council’s short comings – point out who in my opinion has been leading you in the wrong direction – and finally make a suggestion.

For over four years, Council has been funding pet projects sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer and squandering tax-payers money, while denying our most valued resource, line level city workers, decent wages and a cost of living increase. You promised a bonus at the beginning of the budget year to city employees – which ended up being cut by hundreds of dollars – and offered by our City Manager with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.

I call this an un-kept promise.

Your proposed across the board 3% ‘merit increase’ for 114 city employees adds up to less than $100,000which happens to be less than the annual salary of our City Manager’s newly hired Assistant City Manager.

Since July 2010, six sworn police personnel have left the City and it is very likely that others will leave in the near future to join other agencies. A number of other city employees have also left, seeking higher pay and to work for a City Manager who will treat them with respect.

At a time when our safety is more critical than ever, you cut ‘shift differential’ of $1 an hour from our police – denying them a mere $12 a night extra for their 12 hour shiftsyet you fund a multi-million dollar bird park with never ending maintenance costs – encouraged and sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer – that will displace our critically needed police firing range - shared with law enforcement throughout the region – because the noise from the guns disturbs the birds.

At a time when the Performing Arts Center remains often empty, from lack of use, you fund an ill fated second performance center – sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer – that even if it ever gets completed will not have adequate parking.

At a time when ADOT is putting up streetlights on 89A to assure the safety of our citizens, you fund a $50,000 ‘Small Grant Lighting Program’ to encourage business owners to buy dark sky compliant lighting on that very street. A pointless and costly program blessed by our City Manager and Code Enforcement.

At a time when the Boys and Girls Club center needs a mere $60,000 to stay afloat, you choose to drive the Boys and Girls Club out. The City Manager has a ‘better’ use for the facility – one that will ‘under serve’ Sedona’s poorest children.

Sales and Bed taxes are declining, and you give $500,000 to $600,000 to a Chamber of Commerce whose tax statement shows that nearly $566,579 of their million plus budget goes to salaries and benefits.

You boast that you are fiscally responsible, yet your 2012-2013 City budget shows a mere $11 million in City reserves. While a looming $60 million dollar sewer bond debt, you keep refinancing to extend the call date, gives Sedona Citizens the distinction of having among the ‘highest per capita debt’ in the state.

You double our sewer bills – torment tourists with traffic tickets – plan for parking meters in Uptown to make up for declining revenues – while our (with perks) $200,000 per year salaried City Manager – who in my opinion gives questionable advice to Council – with Council’s blessing, hires his friend as Assistant City Manager for nearly double what his previous Assistant made, even though there were 80 applicants for the job at the previous salary – then, also with Council’s blessing, he hires yet another friend as an assistant for his Assistant City Manager – and they all share one – more than likely, over worked and under-paid – secretary.

Here is my suggestion. Clean house.

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28 Comments

  1. Ray Visser says:

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  2. Thank you.

    Every point I make in the address to City Council is correct and accurate and thoroughly researched. I attached documents to substantiate every point and turned them over to the City Clerk, Susan Irvine, along with a copy of my words before addressing the Mayor and City Council.

  3. N. Baer says:

    Kudos Terrie. IMO, that some of the points you so succinctly described regarding city staff is excaberated by their performance evaluations being based on how well they accomplish whatever objective has been determined – by their supervisors and Council. This does not take into account, that some projects may not be feasible once the actual work begins.

  4. Dr Carol says:

    Terrie,

    Good for you. This is just a joke. Why is it that government continues to forget they work for the people, not themselves? How many times are we going to have our sewer bills raised and have to put up with the lunacy?

  5. Bill says:

    Did not know any of this before reading here. Keep up the good work letting people know.

  6. Sales and Bed taxes are declining, and you give $500,000 to $600,000 to a Chamber of Commerce whose tax statement shows that nearly $566,579 of their million plus budget goes to salaries and benefits.

    Is this true & Sweet Deal if affirmative

  7. Sedona Sam says:

    I don’t know Terrie, you were way off base when it came to the Home Rule issue I don’t give you much credit this time either.

  8. Warren says:

    @ Dr Carol – You ask how many times our sewer bills are going to be raised. They are on a schedule to be raised yearly until they reach $75/mo. Really.

    Sedonans had their chance just recently to rein in Council (AKA The Moronic Convergence) by voting against Home Rule. Sedonans totally blew it and the majority of people did not even bother to vote.

    Sedonans need to wake up or continue getting ripped off.

  9. At a time when the Performing Arts Center remains often empty, from lack of use, you fund an ill fated second performance center – sanctioned by our City Manager and City Engineer – that even if it ever gets completed will not have adequate parking.

    What are you talking about? What is this about? Where’s the second center? Thank you for clarifying this. Please don’t print my last name because I don’t want calls from people. Laura (deleted) Sedona AZ

  10. Jean says:

    Warren is on target. A vote against Home Rule last March would have been the best method to rein in the Council and to fight against the excesses at City Hall.

    BTW, the Home Rule election was illegal. State law ARS 41-563.02 provides: “The person, group or organization filing an argument shall not be required to pay any cost of the paper nor any cost of printing the argument.”

    The City of Sedona illegally charged a prohibitive $250 non-refundable deposit to publish an Argument in its voter Publicity Pamphlet. According to the City’s CALL FOR ARGUMENTS, the $250 charge was to offset a portion of the proportionate costs of the paper and printing of the argument.

  11. I would like to address a few of the above remarks….

    To Ivan Kay, regarding our City giving $500,000 to $600,000 of taxpayers money to our Chamber of Commerce (this can be found in the City’s 2012-2013 Budget). The Chamber’s salaries and benefits figure of $566,579 is listed in the Chamber’s Principal Officer’s Jennifer Wesselhoff’s form 990 (2010) tax statement on Page 1, “Salaries, other compensation, employee benefits (Part IX, column (A), lines 5-10) $566,579.00.”

    When I asked Jennifer how much her salary was she told me, “I won’t answer that. Look it up on line, non-profits are public record.” I did. It took me a while and I finally found it. I included this page with the packet I gave to City Council before my address….

    Regarding Sedona Sam saying I was off base in campaigning for No Home Rule, he’s missing the point… No Home Rule would have allowed for a much needed financial oversight and cap on City Council’s spending.

    I suspect many people didn’t know what they were voting for at the Mayor’s behest when he pleaded with them to vote Yes on Home Rule. Now we are stuck with Home Rule for another four years, which amounts to unbridled spending on pet projects and top management hirings by our City Council.

    Our City Manager, Tim Ernster, oversees approx 114 city workers – yet his salary is $200,000 (including his perks). The Scottsdale City Manager who oversees 2,800 city workers actually makes less than $200,000…. (I have seen Tim Ernster’s City Contract. The Scottsdale City Manager’s salary, unlike Tim’s, is openly listed as a line item in the Scottsdale City Budget, which can be found on-line).

    To answer Laura, I am referring to the ill fated Barbara’s Park performance center at Posse Ground, approved by City Council, whose dome collapsed in the middle of construction a month ago.

    Mayor Adams informed me that the reason the City Council funded this project was because the City owed the State Parks $480,000 from a Heritage grant that the State had awarded the City over ten years ago.

    The City failed to meet the terms of the grant due to an ill-fated combined Cultural Park and trail head project that failed.

    Rather than refunding the money to the State, they directed it into Barbara’s Park… and also had to add an additional $1.2 million. Though, it will take far more to complete the project. A sign next to the collapsed dome reads that Friends of the Posse Ground, a non-profit organization, is looking for an additional $600,000 in private donations for Barbara’s Park.

  12. Warren says:

    Re Terrie’s comment about the mayor pleading with people to vote for Home Rule:

    It wasn’t just the mayor, it was an establishment onslaught. The City manager was out giving talks to various groups, and the City itself sent out several mailings of misinfo, one by itself and another in with the sewer bill.

    Also, one of the members of the City’s Budget Oversight (AKA Outtasight) Commission was propagandizing in favor of Home Rule in local media with completely fictitious numbers.

    Terrie was not at all “off base” with her stance against Home Rule. I have no problem saying that anyone who voted for Home Rule got totally suckered. They are going to get what they voted for, and they are going to get it good and hard. In fact, as Terrie has pointed out above with the example Barbara’s Park, residents are already getting screwed.

  13. Dear Terrie,

    As I have traveled throughout the United States these past three years and especially the past two months, the issues of Sedona are common throughout the United States and I’m not suggesting that justifies the behaivor …. it doesn’t!

    Folks like you are waking up and actually saying out loud what they have only in the past been willing to discuss behind closed doors.

    Thanks for being so bold and using your real name.

    Gary Chamberlain
    “Point Man” FVUSA

  14. Warren says:

    @Gary — “Folks like you are waking up….”

    Please, no condescension. Some of us have been awake. Some of us have been sounding off our entire lives.

  15. Charlie says:

    Dear Terrie,

    Thank you for your involvement. Without reading “the other side of the story,” however, one should not reach any conclusions. Might you invite the mayor or city manager to respond? A point / counterpoint conversation would be helpful.

    Best wishes,

    Charlie

  16. Tony Tonsich says:

    Time to wake up the other voters. I too could not believe “Home Rule” was approved. Think about it, a highly paid city manager, assistant city manager and assistant to the assistant city manager, all making six figure salaries.

    Tell everyone you know. Between the City of Sedona and Sedona Fire tax and fee increases, we will be working for them, not them working for us.

  17. J. Neiman says:

    I love Sedona’s beauty, my friends & the Film Fest.
    But…the constant conflict of locals vs tourists; Fire Officials/locals,
    City Hall vs citizens, Village of Oak Creek pretending to be
    Sedona (without contributing to Sedona Proper) is getting old.

    It’s like there is a blanket of conflict that rests over the Sedona
    area and it affects everyone. I’m sure there is conflict in every small/large
    city, but Sedona’s beauty is being smothered with it.

    I’ve been away most of the summer and have enjoyed the friendliness
    of another small town. There is a sense of peace here, that I no longer
    feel in Sedona.

  18. Emily says:

    Terrie Frankel’s thoughtful and well-documented speech before the City Council hit many good, irrefutable points – so succinctly – and in my opinion put the ball squarely in the City Manager’s “court”. Will there be any substantive response forthcoming to the issues raised in her speech, from either our council members or the City Manager’s Office? I hope so, but if not, the old adage may apply: their silence speaks volumes.

  19. Warren says:

    @ Emily –

    You ask will there be any substantive response? I can tell you there will be only defensiveness. In fact the mayor was quite rude to Terrie in his response to her at the Council meeting, his usual tactic when cornered. I and others have experienced it as well.

    One can only hope there will be a “substantive response” from voters in 4 years when the Home Rule issue returns. One can only hope that by then voters will have had enough and will vote against Home Rule.

  20. Jan says:

    Terrie has taken her precious time to carefully look into the “corruption” that is going on in this city and has documented her findings. I wish she would do the same with the present president of the USA. Our entire country is experiencing corrupt government at every level. Thank you, Terrie.

  21. Tom Longo says:

    Tony Tonsich, you must really enjoy inciting people and providing them with misinformation. Had you chosen a career in City government you too would be in a position to earn the salary that comes with the responsibilities of running a city like Sedona. Their salaries are in line with what their counterparts earn in similar cities our size. Believe me when I say that they are highly underpaid for the responsibilities that come with their jobs. Perhaps, there is still time for you to change careers?

    As clearly stated by SFD fire chief Kazian the raise in the mill rate will not require
    any additional increases in SFD taxes/fees. In fact, we, as taxpayers, will be contributing the same amount as we did the previous year.

    Time for you to stop giving out misinformation on things you know very little about. Perhaps, it’s time for you to go back to hibernate?

    Tom Longo
    Sedona, AZ

  22. Warren says:

    @ Tony Longo

    You wrote: “Their salaries are in line with what their counterparts earn in similar cities our size. Believe me when I say that they are highly underpaid for the responsibilities that come with their jobs.”

    Believe you? Forgetaboutit!

    The point you made is the point you missed. Government workers, especially the top echelon, are overpaid everywhere.

    Ernster was hired at 30% more than his predecessor. Did the town suddenly grow by 30%? Did his “responsibilities that came with his job” suddenly grow by 30%? I don’t think so.

    Additionally, the City of Sedona pays its top bureaucrats – City Manager, Assistant City Manager, City Attorney, Community Development Director and Financial Services Director — in excess of $600,000 combined, an average of over $60 per hour not including generous pensions and health benefits.

  23. Dan Wolf says:

    Way to go Terrie,

    We so appreciate you as a watchdog over our bloated city government.

    You were and are dead on in regards to home rule. You were and will be proven correct in regards to the out of control budget of our fire dept. And once again you are well researched and accurate voice before our city council screaming, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’ ! I am sick of this attitude that everyone living in Sedona is loaded and can afford to pay for any pet projects someone deems ‘beneficial’ to our community. ‘Stop the Madness’ would be a great slogan for you, Terrie, when you run for office.

  24. Tom Wachs says:

    Terrie is both my friend and neighbor, whom I refer to as a closet Republican. She has become tireless in her pursuit of reason and fairness in a small city that has run amok. We are a city of roughly 11,000 people, but we have an expenditure of millions to support a bloated, narcissistic and myopic government. They have lost touch with reality and common sense!

    Bravo Terrie!!!

  25. teak Monkey says:

    I Commend you Terrie! Although I disagree that we need more law enforcement in sedona. I do however agree with the friviaous spending on wasteful projects by our city gov. i.e.; the collapsed dome, future meditation park etc. It has to stop! and don’t even get me started on the Boys and Girls club, just another sign that sedona still rejects youth in this city as a whole, just as it did in my childhood here in the late 60′s and early 70′s.

  26. Re: Tony Tonsich’ input

    Mr. Tonsich:

    Learn all you can from this blog site but please refrain from writing anything as you have no credibility.

    After your toxic behavior with the fire district, in my opinion your only intent is to disparage people’s reputation and not add educated facts like the people on this site. While I may or may not agree with everything written on this blog, I can see that these people are impassioned about their feelings to better this city not to sling mud as you have proven to do when given the chance.

    I can’t help but remember your behavior at the SFD candidate forum meetings where your only intent was to disrupt the meetings and hand out flyers to disparage those who you think fired your girlfriend for unjust reasons. Not very mature!

  27. Case of disparate salaries between city managers Scottsdale v Sedona and what’s to be done.

    Tired of all the yammering and not doing. Cleaning house sounding right.. Recall will let people vote on salaries to give more to workers and less to fat cats at the top.

    If council can’t rein in a Republicant city government people need to rein in Republicant council.. Angela stand up or lose votes and donations because you’re for the people at the bottom of the ladder or not..

  28. Lisa says:

    What a shame the city won’t listen. Looking for Frankel info again. Really like this!

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